Eating, Drinking and Sleeping in the Sukka

  • Rav David Brofsky

the laws of THE FESTIVALS


by Rav David Brofsky


Shiur #21: Eating, Drinking, and Sleeping in the Sukka




Last week, we concluded our analysis of the mitzva of “yeshiva ba-sukka” – dwelling in the sukka. Deepening our discussion of the nature of the mitzva to dwell in the sukka after the first night, we discussed the blessing of leishev ba-sukka, and we compared and contrasted the mitzva of sukka to the mitzva of matza.


This week, we will define in greater detail which activities, including eating, drinking, and sleeping, one must perform in the sukka, and which one is permitted to do outside of a sukka.


Eating in the Sukka - Distinguishing Between Akhilat Arai and Akhilat Keva


The gemara, as we shall see, explicitly relates to certain activities that must be performed in the sukka and those that may be performed outside. In addition, the gemara specifies which foods one must eat in the sukka and which may be eaten outside. Broadly speaking, the Rishonim and Acharonim question whether the gemara intends to obligate one who eats only specific types of foods, which are generally eaten within one’s home, or whether even other foods, when eaten in a meal-like manner, must also be eaten in the sukka.


Regarding eating outside of the sukka, the mishna (25a) distinguishes between one who eats an “akhilat keva,” loosely translated as one who eats a meal, and akhilat arai, one who eats a snack. The Rishonim (see Ritva 25a, s.v. ochlin, for example) explain that since one ordinarily eats small quantities, or snack food, outside of one’s house, eating “arai” outside of the sukka does not violate “teshvu ke-ein taduru,” which demands that one perform those activities that one ordinarily does in one’s home in the sukka.


The gemara refers to two foods. On the one hand, one who eats a significant quantity must eat in the sukka, as the gemara (26a) relates:


Casual eating and drinking are permitted outside the sukka. What constitutes a casual meal? R. Yosef said: [The volume of] two or three eggs. Abbaye said to him: But sometimes this suffices for [a whole meal for] a man. Why then should this not constitute a set meal? Rather, said Abbaye: [A small quantity] only as much as a student tastes before proceeding to the college assembly.


The Rishonim assume that this passage refers to one who eats bread.


Although the Rishonim all rule in accordance with Abbaye, they differ as to the precise amount which constitutes an akhilat arai. The Shulkhan Arukh (639:2) rules that a quantity of bread the size of a ke-beitza (an egg) constitutes an akhilat arai; therefore, one may not eat more than a ke-beitza of bread outside of a sukka.


Some Rishonim cite R. Avigdor Kohen Tzedek (see Shibolei Ha-Leket 444), who insists that on Shabbat and Yom Tov, all food is considered to be akhilat keva, as we see regarding the laws of terumot and ma’asrot (see Beitza 34b). Many Rishonim disagree (see, for example, Maharach Or Zaru’a, Responsa 71). Similarly, some Acharonim (Tzlach, Berakhot 49b; see also Hagahot R. Akiva Eiger 639:2 and the Bikkurei Yaakov 20) insist that we consider all bread eaten on Yom Tov, regardless of the size, to be an akhilat keva, which must be eaten in the sukka, most Acharonim (Eliya Rabba 11; Magen Avraham 10; Mishna Berura 23; see also Seridei Esh 2:41 and Tzitz Eliezer 16:20) do not distinguish between Shabbat and Chol Ha-Mo’ed regarding akhilat arai and akhilat keva.


On the other hand, the gemara (Yoma 79b) implies that the Amoraim disagree as to whether fruit must be eaten in the sukka. The Rosh (2:13) records that the Maharam Mi-Rutenburg refrained from eating fruits outside of the sukka, in deference to the opinion cited in the gemara. Interestingly, the Rosh understands that even the opinion which requires one to eat fruit in the sukka refers to a case in which one bases his meal upon the fruit. The Rishonim, however, rule in accordance with the view that maintains that fruit do not need to be eaten in the sukka.


Interestingly, some (see Me’iri 26b, s.v. u-ma) suggest that one should still distinguish between fruits eaten as a snack and those eaten for a meal, and some Acharonim relate to this stringency (see Chayye Adam 147:3, who recommends being stringent when sitting down to eat fruit with other people). The Shulchan Arukh (639:2) explicitly permits eating fruit outside of the sukka, and the Rema (see also Mishna Berura 13) writes that even one who bases his meal on fruit may eat outside of the sukka.


Aside from bread, the gemara (27a) also implies that other foods, known as “targima,” may constitute an akhilat keva. Although some Rishinom (Tosafot 27a, s.v. be-minei; Ritva 27b, s.v. ve-ha; Tosafot Rabbeinu Peretz cited by the Rosh 2:14) explain that targima refers to meat, fish, and even cheese, most (Rosh; Tosafot, Pesachim 107b, s.v. minei targima; Tur 639) understand that targima refers to a cooked food made from one of the five grains, upon which one recites the blessing of borei minei mezonot.


The Shulchan Arukh (639:2) rules in accordance with those who define targima as a dish made from grains: “A cooked dish made from the five grains, if one bases a meal upon it (kove’a alav se’uda), needs [to be eaten in] a sukka.” Here, too, the Acharonim discusses whether everyone who eats targima must eat in a sukka, or only if one is kove’a alav se’uda (see Chayei Adam 3 and Bikkurei Yaakov 15, for example). The Mishna Berura (15; Bi’ur Halakha, s.v. kava; see also R. Ovadya Yosef, Responsa Yechave Da’at 1:65) records that some rule that one should not recite the blessing of leishev ba-sukka unless one eats this cooked dish as a meal, and concludes that when reciting the blessing, one should have in mind the additional time one sits in the sukka as well.


The Acharonim also disagree regarding pat ha-ba’a be-kisanin (baked goods), upon which one recites borei minei mezonot. While some insist that their status is similar to bread, and therefore one who eats the volume of a ke-beitza must eat in the sukka and recite the blessing leshev ba-sukka, others explain that one should only recite leishev ba-sukka if one is kove’a alav se’uda. Incidentally, the Acharonim define kove’ah alav se’uda as one who eats in a group, or even one views his eating as a “meal.”


The Mishna Berura (16) concludes, in accordance with the Sha’arei Teshuva, that although one should theoretically omit the blessing of leishev ba-sukka when eating pat ha-ba’a be-kisanin as a snack due to the principle of safek berakhot le-hakel (one who is in doubt whether to say a certain blessing, should omit it), it is customary to say leishev ba-sukka on all baked goods.


Some Acharonim, due to this doubt, suggest that one should recite the blessing of leshev ba-sukka before the blessing recited on the food. They fear that since the food itself may not warrant the blessing, but rather the sitting in the sukka, the blessing of leishev ba-sukka may constitute an interruption between the blessing and eating the food. The common custom, however, is to recite the blessing upon eating more than a ke-beitza of grain-based food (cooked or baked) after the blessing recited over the food.


Although, as mentioned above, we generally assume that targima refers to foods cooked from the five grains, R. Yoel Sirkis (Bach 639) writes that one should be stringent and not eat meat or cheese outside of a sukka when one eats them as a meal. The Eliyya Rabba (13) concurs. Although the Chayye Adam (147:3) also writes that one who eats more than a ke-beitza of meal or fish and bases a meal on them (kava aleihem) should eat in the sukka, the custom is not to be strict regarding meat, fish, and cheese.


Drinking in the Sukka


            The gemara (Sukka 28b), as well as some Rishonim (Rashi 20b, s.v. lo; Rambam, Hilkhot Sukka 6:5) and the Shulchan Arukh (639:1), implies that drinking in the sukka constitutes a fulfillment of the mitzva of dwelling in the sukka. Furthermore, the mishna (25b) teaches that “casual eating and drinking are permitted outside the sukka” - implying that shetiyat keva, similar to an akhilat keva, must be performed in a sukka.


            What, if any, type of drinking must one do in the sukka? Some Rishonim maintain that drinking a revi’it of wine (Ritva 2a), sitting down to drink wine with other people (Machzor Vitri), or drinking wine with one’s meal (Me’iri) is considered to be a shetiyat keva. Others (Mordekhai 741; Rosh 2:13; Tur 639) maintain that even drinking wine is considered to be a shetiyat arai.


            The Shulchan Arukh (639:2) rules explicitly that one may drink both water and wine outside of the sukka. The Rema adds that even if one wishes to “kava alayhu,” to drink in a set, formal manner, he may still drink outside of the sukka. Many Acharonim, however, insist that one who drinks wine in a formal manner should do so in the sukka (see Bi’ur Halakha, s.v. ve-yayin).


            Interestingly, some Acharonim note that casual eating and drinking during the meal must be done in the sukka (see Sha’ar Ha-Tzyun 29, who suggests that even water drunken as part of a meal must be had in the sukka, regarding which he concludes, “ve-tzarikh iyun.”)


Sleeping in the Sukka


The gemara (26a) teaches that although one may eat a snack (akhilat arai) outside of the sukka, one may not nap (sheinat arai) outside of the sukka.


Our Rabbis taught: Casual eating is permitted outside the sukka, but not casual sleeping. What is the reason? R. Ashi said: We fear lest the person fall into a deep slumber… Rava said: [In the case of sukka, the question of] regularity in sleep does not arise.


While according to R. Ashi, it seems that the prohibition of sheinat arai is a Rabbinic enactment lest one come to fall into a sheinat keva, Rava does not recognize a difference between a sheinat arai and a sheinat keva.


            The Talmud Yerushalmi (Sukka 2:5) cites a similar debate:


R. Lezar said: Casual eating is permitted; casual sleeping is prohibited. His colleagues explained that a person may fall into a deep sleep. R. Eila explained that a person may sleep even a bit and that may be sufficient. What is the difference between these two opinions? A person who appointed another [to wake him up]. According to his colleagues, this would be permitted. According to R. Eilya, it would be prohibited.


Most Rishonim rule in accordance with Rava.


            The Mishna Berura (11) cites the Peri Megadim, who defines a sheinat arai as the time it takes to walk 100 amot, or slightly under a minute. Some Acharonim (see Bikkurei Yaakov 34, for example) note that one need not avoid dozing off while learning or traveling, since one would not ordinarily go home to sleep in this situation (teshvu ke-ein taduru). Interestingly, the Tosefet Ma’ase Rav (p. 13) records that once, when the Vilna Gaon was imprisoned during Sukkot, “he would run from place to place, he would grab his eye lashes, and do all sorts of tricks in order not to fall asleep outside of the sukka.”


Many Rishonim observe that in their communities, it was not customary for men to sleep in their sukkot. The Poskim bring numerous justifications for this practice.


Some Rishonim (see Mordekhai 741, Me’iri 26a) explain that in the regions in which they lived, it was simply too cold to sleep outside. The Rema (639:2), for example, writes:


Regarding the contemporary leniency regarding sleep - that people do not sleep in the sukka except for those who are careful about mitzvot - some say it is because of the extreme cold, since it is uncomfortable to sleep in cold places.


In his commentary to the Tur, the Darkhei Moshe (639), the Rema claims that although this is probably the source for this practice, “in most of our places, it isn’t that cold, and they could sleep in the sukka with blankets and sheets.”


            Others (see Ra’avya 646) suggest that one who fears thieves or “non-Jews” may sleep inside. The Rema (Responsa 29) insists that this exception only applies if one is concerned for his physical safety, and not for his material belongings.


            This, of course, raises another problem. The Rema (660:4), citing the Yereim (421), writes:


If one made [the sukka] in a place in which one would be uncomfortable to eat, drink, or sleep or where he cannot perform one of the above acts because of the fear of robbers, one does not fulfill [the mitzva] with that sukka at all, even when those actions that are not uncomfortable, because it is not similar to living-dwelling [in a house] where one can perform all his needs.


If one cannot sleep in the sukka due to the cold weather, then, according to the Rema, this sukka should be considered invalid, and one may not eat in this sukka even during the day!


The Acharonim offer numerous solutions to this problem, which would conceivably invalidate many sukkot. The Mishna Berura 640:18) explains:


In the cold places, one fulfills his obligation with eating even though he is unable to sleep there, since it is impossible [to sleep warmly] anyhow, and also since [a sukka in a cold place] is considered fit for sleeping if one has sufficient blankets and sheets.


Since there was no option of building a sukka in a warmer place and one can overcome the cold if one has blankets and sheets, this sukka is not considered to be invalid. The Yere’im, however, spoke of a sukka that was deliberately built in a place which was dangerous, when it could have been built elsewhere.


            The Rema, after suggesting that people don’t sleep in their sukkot due to the inclement weather, offers another justification:


It seems to me that because the mitzva is for a man to sleep together with his wife the way he does the rest of the year, and in a situation where that is not possible, since they do not have a private sukka, he is exempt.


The Rema writes that since ones dwelling in one’s sukka should be akin to one’s dwelling in one’s home (teshvu ke-ein taduru), in a situation in which a man cannot sleep together with his wife, he is exempt from the mitzva.


            The notion that teshvu ke-ein taduru may also include living together with one’s wife in the sukka in a similar fashion to the was one lives with his wife during the year appears elsewhere (Arakhin 13b, Sukka 28b)


Some Acharonim (Magen Avraham 8) explain that one who must sleep apart from his wife is considered to be a mitzta’er, one who is uncomfortable in the sukka, and therefore he is exempt. Others (Taz 9; see also Darkhei Moshe) suggest that just as those who travel to perform a mitzva are exempt from the sukka (Sukka 25a), a man is similarly obligated to bring happiness to his wife during the festival. He fulfills this obligation, the Taz explains, regardless of whether or not he may actually have relations with his wife. Similarly, some restrict such an exemption to one who has relations with his wife, fulfilling the mitzva of “ona,” who need not, return to the sukka afterwards (see Mishna Berura 18; see also Leket Yosher, who describes how his teacher, the Terumat Ha-Deshen, would return to the sukka after having relations).


Despite the various justifications cited above, it is preferable to sleep in one’s sukka if possible. This is certainly true in Israel, where the weather is more conducive to sleeping outside.


Socializing and Playing in the Sukka


            In addition to eating, drinking, and sleeping, the gemara (28b) enumerates other activities that should preferably be performed in the sukka.


From what our Rabbis have taught: “You shall dwell” implies - in the same manner as you ordinarily live. Hence they said: “All the seven days one should make his sukka his permanent abode, and his house his temporary abode. In what manner? If he has beautiful vessels, he should bring them up into the sukka; beautiful divans, he should bring them up into the sukka; he should eat and drink and pass his leisure (metayel) in the sukka; he should also engage in profound study in the sukka.


The Rishonim note that one should perform most of one’s activities in the sukka. For example, the Darkhei Moshe (639:1) cites the Maharil, who rules that “if one wishes to discuss matters with his friend, they should enter the sukka.” He also quotes the Maharil Weil, who writes that “one which wishes to play with blocks or similar [games] should play in the sukka.”


Next week, we will discuss those scenarios in which one is exempt from the sukka.